(Click here if you instead prefer to contemplate lists of things);
or click here for links to more formal technical forms of descriptions)
Let us fantasize, visualize, an Earth which has become a vast international tended parkland, cities which have abundant electrical power and food, the people happy and excited there with so much to do in joyful playful co-operative interaction, civilization's toxic wastes no longer dumped into the environment; the year is only 2025 and mankind's population has become 10 billion people and room is being vigorously prepared for more at the rate of one and a quarter million people a day, no limit in sight at the moment.
So engage your Imagineering and roll it toward ways to put enough solar electric power satellites into orbit to satisfy all the world's electrical power needs now and far into the future. The same transportation system would be capable of putting immense hard vacuum hazardous materials zero-g mass spectrometer chemical element sorting plants into the same orbit and economically lift all the unrecyclable trash of civilization up to be reconstituted into their elemental natures, ready for use again in the form of highly refined raw materials. Let this same transportation system be able to lift the construction materials for a few Stanford Torus 10,000-person each mile-diameter artificial gravitied slowly rotating space habitats also there in geostationary high earth orbit, true agriculturally self-supported cities in space. While we are Imagineering freely, let this transportation system be electrically powered by some of those same kind of solar power satellites it originally emplaced into orbit. Let the transportation system continuously lift vehicles from the ground all the way up into high Earth orbit, all along its path it distributes the upward kinetic energy the vehicles need to rise upward or descend softly, space-bound vehicles thus needing to carry no fuel themselves.
For a moment, let's back down our imagination into low speed. Consider what is involved in raising something up. Raising something up off the ground adds to its potential energy; if it is then released and let to fall to the ground, that potential energy is converted to the equivalent amount of kinetic energy. We can easily calculate the amount of this energy from the ground to GEO (7.2 KWHr/lbm) or to complete escape velocity (7.9 KWHr/lbm), for a non-dissipative system.
It is conceivable that we could build a mechanism to raise vehicles up by having them lightly drag against a high velocity upward-bound stream of mass, slowing the mass steam down a bit as it yields some of its kinetic energy to lift up the vehicles.
So let us consider a mechanism for doing this all the way from the ground to space, first as merely an intellectual exercise of imagination.
To have a continuous upward-bound mass stream, the mass stream needs to travel in a closed loop, for efficiency. If this loop encircled the planet, elliptically following the shape of an orbital transfer trajectory between the radius of the earth surface, out to the GEO/GSO orbital altitude of 22,300 miles (about 6.6 earth radii), the gravitational field of the planet would perform the bending of the mass stream into a closed loop. Vehicles conceivably could "lightly drag" against that mass stream, continuously upward-bound all the way from the ground to GE(S)O altitude, dragging the vehicles along with it upward from ground level to space.
To make the travel of the mass stream resemble non-dissipative while it traverses the earth's atmosphere, an evacuated tubing needs to be provided along its trajectory within the atmosphere. Magnetic levitation (maglev) tacks could define the interface between the mass stream and the tubing. The weight of the tubing and maglev track could be supported by tapping some of the upward-bound kinetic energy of the mass stream, and requires contra-rotating mass streams so that there is upward bound mass on both sides of the planet-encircling structure.
However, a much more efficient way of supporting the majority of the weight of the tubing and maglev track structure could be done, by confining the trajectory of the mass streams to the path of a free-fall orbital transfer trajectory as mentioned before (between ground level and GEO, between r=1 and r=6.6) by the tubing and maglev structure, yet accelerate the mass stream to far above orbital transfer velocity as it encircles the earth within the inner side of the structure. At higher than orbital velocity, yet still constrained to follow a lower orbital path, a component has an upward direction (as the mass attempts to go to a higher orbit but is restrained by the path of the maglev track structure) relative to the Earth, this exerts an outward (upward relative to the Earth) centrifugal force, effectively an upward lift force against the underside of the maglev track structure, and to similarly support the weight of the vehicles travelling between ground and space along the structure. Electromagnetic coupling seems appropriate for energy transfers, resulting in what becomes an electric motor with an enormous perimeter, power input to mass stream electromagnetically while the mass stream traverses the earth terminal as it grazes the equator of the planet within the accelerator. The ground-connected part of the structure, the maglev track structure, is the electric motor's "stator", and the 'armature" moving part of this motor would be in the form of armature segments whose motion in the form of the high velocity mass stream would be monitored by sensors along the track. The velocity and position of each armature segment would be re-initialized by electomagnetic accelerators in the ground terminal as each armature segment speeds past the surface of the earth within the evacuated tubing enclosing the maglev tracks.
So, while we are at this Imagineering, let the Electrical Engineers design this electric motor so big its perimeter traces an orbital transfer trajectory between 1 earth radius (ground level) to 6.6 earth radii (geostationary earth orbit), and let the Civil Engineers build it into a structure that solidly bridges along that trajectory, a bridge that has maglev tracks along its earthward side in which the electric motor's armature segments continuously slide around the earth in evacuated tubing maglev tracks at three times the velocity of an orbital transfer trajectory yet constrained by the stator track to the trajectory of merely one orbital transfer velocity, thusly path constrained generating outward centrifugal force, able to support the static weight of stator bridge structure mass equal to the mass of the armature mass stream, and similarly to provide the energy to lift an aggregate vehicular weight also equal to the aggregate mass of the armature mass streams. On the topside of this elliptically-shaped structure that follows the shape of an orbital transfer trajectory between the earth surface equator and geostationary earth orbit, have a different set of maglev tracks along which the vehicles are lifted between ground and earth synchronous geostationary orbit, the vehicles being lifted by inductively upward braking against the magnetic fields of the rising high velocity mass streams which are continuously upward bound along the underside of the stator bridging structure. (To see a diagram of what this all would look like, take a quick peek at the graphic located lower on this web page.)
Emplace the first few loops of this motor in the form of rising tubing propelled by high velocity mass streams inside the tubing, only to reach its rising end and then to be deflected backwards out of the head nozzle, providing reaction energy to lift the rising end of the tubing, the tubing which follows the rising nozzle being supported by the local upward centrifugal force of curving the mass stream against the inside the evacuated tubing. When two tubes find each other high up at synchronous orbital altitude, they engage interlocking lateral channels to zip themselves together as they continue on down around to complete their contra rotating journey on around back to the earth surface equatorial ground terminal, the weight of the downward leg being supported by the upward lift of the adjacent rising leg to which it now is attached.
Use this initial tiny-internal-diameter orbital trajectory path following pair of self-propelled tubular emplacement structures, upon which to bootstrap-construct ever-larger versions of itself, until the lift capacity of the structure is great enough to be used for lifting those things we mentioned before, for lifting the immense solar electric power satellites into synchronous earth orbit to thereafter supply the earth's electric power needs cleanly and cheaply, for lifting the equally immense solar-electric powered mass-spectrometer recycling machines to rid the planetary ecosystem of unrecyclable toxic or otherwise hazardous materials, and for lifting the construction materials for the first few 10,000-person Stanford Torus agricultural space cities and their passive shielding mass to be built there in high earth orbit, a springboard from which to go gather raw materials from the moon, Phobos, the asteroids and beyond, with which to build vastly more of those cities in earth synchronous orbit, each ring around the earth enough room to provide comfortable life for 15 billion people, if they so choose to live and prosper there, no burden to the earth surface ecosystem anymore.
And while we are at this Imagineering orgy, let's imagine a program which enables every person to clarify their mind and body and goals in life, using applied kinesiology and all the other arts recently crafted into efficient ways to holistically balance a person's mind and body, ridding them of heavy metals and other toxins, and of the parasitical pathogens which silently drag people down, and make these programs available to those Electrical Engineers, Civil Engineers, and scientists and arts and crafts people of every discipline, who are needed to have unusually high cooperative whole-person competency to build this transportation system and the solar electrical power stations and hazardous materials recycling plants and the cities in space which it enables, and then to begin the detoxification restoration process of the fragile diverse earthsurface ecosystem for life's lush survival far into the future, for all to cherish from now on.
Did you enjoy this Imagineering fest? Do the technologies involved in unique ways actually differ much from the kinds of technologies already presently developed for use in conventional ways? Is all this worth exploring on a more concrete level? Is the expansive future it could enable preferable to you than the probable end-result toxic-wasted limited future of mankind's present course?
Could we get started now, please?
By James E. D. Cline, email@example.com
Here is a diagram of the overall kestsgeohr system:
Sliding Armature Energy Momentum Transfer Technology
The Theoretical Low Cost of Energy Added to Payload as a Result of Transportation to Earth Orbit
KESTS: A UNIQUE TRANSPORTATION TECHNOLOGY CONCEPT and IMPLICATIONS. This paper was presented to the L. A. Chapter of International Society of System Science on November 9, 1994.
"Wet-Launch of Prefab Habitat Modules": Re-configuring the technologies used in the making of Space Lab and the Space Shuttle plus a little more, to efficiently emplace a full-sized mile-diameter research space habitat in upper LEO, by building on the ground then launching its wheel-like habitat of the classic design in sections as their own fuel tanks during launch, pre-fitted with cryogenic-safe equipment and provisions: a paper I presented at the SSI conference at Princeton in May, 1995, also formally published in the conference's proceedings. A potential follow-up project for the currently-ongoing International Space Station.
KESTS to OHR: Overall task of lifting civilization to a new site in GEO
An earlier effort to describe this concept in html on my website
Notes from my attempt to interest the academic group of the Space Studies Institute in Princeton, in 1997
"Kinetically Strengthened Transportation Structures" by myself, James E. D. Cline; pp. 396-402, in "Space 2000, Proceedings of Space 2000: the Seventh International Conference and Exposition on Engineering, Construction, Operations, and Business in Space", published by the American Society of Civil Engineers, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Reston, Virginia 20191-4400.
Curious about my efforts to get these concepts into the public's awareness? Here are a couple of my better early efforts:
Highway To Earth GEO Ring, presented to the public as GEnie Spaceport File #747, on February 9, 1989
"Long Space Transportation Structures and Applications", a presentation I made to the SSI Space Studies Team in semi-formal meeting near El Segundo, California, then placed to the general public on July 17, 1989 as GEnie file #927